MOULTRIE -- Friday's sunshiny day was perfect for the little children and their dogs playing at the Spence Field campgrounds.
It would be a nice start to the Labor Day weekend if it weren't for the threat whirling toward their families' homes in Florida.
Mike Ragan and his family evacuated with two other families from Arcadia in central Florida along with a trailer full of show goats. Since Charley ruined their house and left their town without power for 13 days, home is hooked to the back of a truck.
"We're kind of worn down. We don't need any more, you know," he said.
What they couldn't carry, the Ragans left locked in semi-trailers loaned by friends. There they store all they have left after Charley, most of which Ragan's wife had to clean over and over to try to remove set-in mold. They tied down the trailers and hoped for the best as they left their home already battered by fate to Spence Field, where Ragan's wife had come during the last hurricane.
"There's a lot of people displaced. A lot of people lost their homes," he said.
While Charley tore the roof of the Ragans's split-level house, they were fortunate compared to some of their friends and neighbors. Friends' mobile homes were ripped off the frames, leaving only rubble. Contractors are backed up with work 10 to 12 months, Ragan said. One of the friends is attempting to hold his house frame steady with nailed 2-by-4s.
"It's really unreal. I tell you, I can't describe the damage that it did do," Ragan said, saying some residents, relatively new to Florida, want to move back north.
Not Ragan. He's a native Floridian -- and Irish.
"I don't quit fighting," he said.
Will Quick, a supervisor at a South Beach warehouse, left Florida by himself Wednesday. Searching in vain for a motel room, Quick finally was led to the American Red Cross shelter at Kingwood Baptist Church, where he sat on a piano bench eating crackers and watching the local weather report. Thursday night, Kingwood sheltered 18 evacuees, volunteers said.
Quick is a brand new Florida resident. He moved there from Dallas only a month ago and was promptly initiated when Charley blew through causing minor damage to his workplace. Frances was sizing up to be twice as dangerous, so Quick hit the road.
Setting aside a Connect Four board game at the shelter, the Hernandez family intently watched news of the approaching storm.
David Hernandez and four members of his family left Apopka (near Orlando) Thursday. They had never had to leave their home to dodge a hurricane. Although Charley didn't damage their home, they felt that Frances was too fierce to ignore.
Hurricane Frances, large enough to swallow the State of Florida, is expected to dump eight to 10 inches of rain on Colquitt County, and back the water with 40 mph winds, said Colquitt County Emergency Management Agency Director Russell Moody.
Moody is coordinating efforts of all local law enforcement and emergency units, governments, utility companies, state agencies and volunteer disaster units at the Emergency Operations Center on Veterans Parkway.
Local officials are urging people to stay off the roads if the hurricane follows its expected path over Colquitt County.
Colquitt Regional Medical Center will have additional emergency personnel and four ambulances at the ready, even stationed at volunteer fire departments for quicker response in some rural areas and to handle emergencies bound to occur with the heavy influx of evacuees.
All hotels are full, but the Georgia Baptist Conference Center has about 30 hotel rooms available due to cancellations. About 200 evacuees from a behavioral health facility are scheduled to stay in the dormitories, manager Bill Townes said.
The City of Moultrie is providing free camping at Spence Field on Ga. Highway 133 and as of Friday evening, there's ample space left. Some folks are car camping or pitching tents alongside recreational vehicles.
Spence Field also is serving as a staging area for some 40 to 200 Home Depot semi-trailers that are being brought in over the next couple of days, Assistant City Manager Lance Arnett said. The trailers are full of building supplies bound for Florida after the storm.
One Miami company also is using the old air base to tie down 45 single-engine airplanes to the tarmac, Arnett said.
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This Week's Circulars
MOULTRIE, GA.- Lamar Otis Knight, 61, of Moultrie passed away on Thursday, July 29, 2021. Funeral services will be held 4:00 PM Tuesday, August 3, 2021, at Cobb Funeral Chapel. Interment will be in Greenfield Cemetery. Born March 16, 1960, in Moultrie, he was the son of the late George Otis …
Vera Doris Webb Brown, 88, of Norman Park, died Thursday, July 22, 2021 at Cobblestone Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center. Arrangements have been entrusted to Baker Funeral Home.
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